The poetry of Jacques Viau Renaud is often trying to reconcile the violent history and present of his homeland: Haiti (where he was born) and the Dominican Republic (where he was raised), frequently referring to the island as a whole, actively attempting to make it one. The biggest challenge in translating him is trying to maintain his dynamic lyricism in English, finding ways to capture the energy that rushes from one line to the next, the way it moves from celebratory to anxious to perhaps slightly ominous towards the end. The strength of Renaud’s voice is really housed in the energetic musicality and movement of his lines, at one moment on the cusp of exploding and in the next singing beautifully but low enough to make you lean in closer. Listening closely for that was/is one of the challenges of translating his work, which to my knowledge has never been published in English before.
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